Celebrating a piece of Cobar history

The Great Cobar Heritage Centre (museum) celebrated it’s 50th anniversary on Thursday with a community party. Guest speakers included tourism officer Demi Smith, museum curator Kay Stingemore, deputy mayor Peter Abbott, former tourism officer John Martin, Cobar High School student Montana Tatchell and museum upgrade project manager Tanya Gilbert who all had the honour of cutting the anniversary cake.

The Cobar community kicked up its heels last Thursday night to mark the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Cobar’s museum.

“If this old building could talk, what a tale she’d tell!” deputy mayor Peter Abbott said of  the Great Cobar Heritage Centre in his opening address.

Cr Abbott and former long time Cobar Shire tourism officer John Martin both praised the efforts of the past and present volunteers and staff who have worked to get Cobar’s museum to where it is today.

“The Great Cobar Heritage Centre is known nationally and it will now be developed to a world class standard,” Mr Martin said.

Mr Martin said he’d been pleased in his time at the museum to see Cobar’s tourism industry grow considerably from 3,000 visitors per year in the early 1990s; up to 6,000 visitors in 2000; and then swell to 25,000 visitors in 2002.

“We had a strong local community who had pride in the town. It’s thanks to their will and commitment that we have this great museum,” Mr Martin said.

As part of the museum’s 50th anniversary celebrations, plans for major upgrade works to the precinct were unveiled with project manager Tanya Gilbert outlining the work that will be taking place.

Mrs Gilbert said making the museum accessible to everyone, which includes the installation of a ramp and changes inside “getting the building back to its original fabric” were priorities for the project.

She said their aim was to improve and restore the building so that it would last another 100 years. That includes repairing the roof, damp proofing, and restoring the windows and doors.

Mrs Gilbert said part of the upgrade will also focus on creating more exhibition space, which could also house visiting/travelling displays.

“Redesigning it is a large part of the job, maximising space, using a lot more of the floor space, and relocating the offices. There’s a lot of work to be done,” Mrs Gilbert said.

During the planning stages for the upgrade, Mrs Gilbert said they determined not only what would be of benefit tourists but also the local community.

“The biggest challenge will be trying to keep the doors open while the work is going on.”